LONDON -- Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce became only the third woman in Olympic history to defend her gold medal in the 100-meter dash Saturday, joining luminaries Wyomia Tyus from 1968 and Gail Devers from 1996.
But that doesn’t mean she will achieve celebrity status back home in Kingston.
“Sometimes when I go to the supermarket they ask me questions — about Usain, ‘Where is Usain?’ ‘How is Usain?’ ‘Do you train with Usain?’ ” Fraser-Pryce said. “I’m OK with that because I’m not one of those persons who likes the limelight.”
Fraser-Pryce may usually be upstaged by her charismatic countryman, Usain Bolt, who hopes to go for his own repeat gold in the men’s 100 on Sunday. But Saturday was her day on the podium, well deserved after she sustained her quick start with a furious, flailing finish to out-lean American Carmelita Jeter and teammate Veronica Campbell-Brown in a time of 10.75 seconds.
Jamaican women, who swept the 100 medals in Beijing, won two out of three this time.
“Jamaican women never fail to deliver,” said Campbell-Brown, who trains in Clermont, Fla., a hub for sprinters.
It was a productive night for Jamaica. The opening heats of the men’s 100 provided a first look at Bolt, who smoothed his hair and kissed his index finger while preening at the start line to the delight of fans. He stumbled in the initial steps but recovered to win his heat. Bolt’s training partner, Yohan Blake, barely exerted himself in cruising to first in his heat. Americans Ryan Bailey and Justin Gatlin posted the fastest heat times in Olympic history in smooth efforts that Gatlin likened to “a day at the office.” Tyson Gay also easily advanced to Sunday’s semifinals.
Delirious British fans were treated to an entertaining session on the fast track that is earning raves from athletes. The home team won three gold medals and dubbed it “Super Saturday.”
Great Britain’s Jessica Ennis confirmed she is the World’s Greatest Athlete with a convincing 6,955-point win in heptathlon, the third-highest total behind Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s in 1988 and 1992. She fought back to win the last event, the 800 meters.
Mo Farah, who grew up in London, outsprinted his Ethiopian rivals in the last lap of the 25-lap 10,000 meters to win in 27:30.42 as his friend and training partner in Oregon, Galen Rupp, finished steps behind him to claim the first U.S. medal in the distance event since Billy Mills won in 1964.
Greg Rutherford was the surprise winner of the long jump, and Britain’s first Olympic champ in the event since Lynn Davies in 1964. Will Claye, a former UF Gator, placed third.
Sanya Richards-Ross cruised into Monday’s 400 finals with the fastest time of 50.07. Botswana’s Amantle Monsho finished a close second to American Francena McCrory in their heat. American LaShawn Merritt wasn’t as fortunate, pulling up lame with a sore left hamstring.
“I need to execute my own race,” Richards-Ross said. “In Beijing I didn’t do my own race and now I have that opportunity.”
Jamaica’s athletes were cheered on by a vocal, flag-flapping contingent of fans. London and Birmingham have large Jamaican populations. Ennis and Richards-Ross are of Jamaican heritage.